Mária Orendáčová

Volunteer at the Tandem office in Regensburg, Germany

Contact details: maria@ahoj.info

Hello, my name is Mária, I am 28 years old and I am a volunteer at the Tandem office in Regensburg. I am Czechoslovak – so I have family and my home in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I am interested in literature, languages, history and neuroscience. My hobbies also include walks and excursions, painting, reading, creative writing and music.

Why did you decide to spend a year abroad?

German-Czech relations are an important issue for my family, especially for me and my beloved grandmother from Uherské Hradiště, Marie Orendáčová. Her father and my greatest role model, Miloš Novotný, was a dissident during World War II who helped people persecuted by the Nazi regime flee occupied areas in Bohemia and Moravia to safer areas. The publication of a linocut with an anti-Nazi regime theme sent him to prison and later to concentration camps. He survived the war and his bravery, wisdom and love for life all live on – in his deeds and in his daughter.

When I was a small child, I thought I would hate German because of that story. But when I first heard German in high school, the opposite was true. Later, I also wanted to study German, but this was not possible at that time due to a number of unfavourable factors in my life. Instead, I studied English in Košice for a bachelor’s degree, then I studied biology in Prague as the focus of my master’s degree and then started a doctoral degree in medical biophysics. My life has been really colourful in this last summer semester. I have met many great people from all over the world at various events and activities that mean a lot to me. Just to name a few: Povídej si! (Czech as a foreign language for Ukrainians) at the Scout Institute in Prague, German and Ukrainian courses at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University, the Czech-German group of regulars U Bohouše in Prague, excursions with my friends from the „Association of Migratory Birds“ at my faculty at Charles University (Turistický klub PřF UK). And, of course, the conversations with my friends from the Hvězda dormitory. I owe the fact that my life has been and is so cheerful and colourful to my family and friends, who support me very much. My thanks also go to Klara Tschek, a wonderful person and German teacher who has helped me a lot in my life.

And all of this has brought me to Regensburg, to the office of Tandem, whose goal is to support German-Czech relations.

What do you hope to gain from your work as a volunteer?

I hope that, as part of my volunteer service, I will have the opportunity to support German-Czech relations. I also hope that I will be able to contribute my own ideas. I would also like to develop my professional and personal skills.

What are you most looking forward to in your year abroad?

I am looking forward to the many things that await me in Regensburg. The team in the Tandem office and our collaboration and all the adventures that will surely be associated with it. But above all, I am looking forward to all the nice people I will meet this year and to every moment full of fun and joy.

Maren Emmrich

Volunteer at the Tandem office in Pilsen, CZ

Contact details: maren@ahoj.info

Ahoj, I’m Maren, the new volunteer in Pilsen. I am 18 years old and finished school in 2023. I read a lot and like to play tennis in my spare time. I also often do yoga and otherwise like to meet up with my friends.

Why did you choose volunteer service?

After graduation, I did not want to study directly, but instead wanted to gain experience that has nothing to do with school or university. Tandem offers the perfect opportunity to do this through its various projects and events. I look forward to getting involved creatively and to meeting new and interesting people. It’s also great to get to know a new culture and language at the same time.

What activities are you looking forward to most?

I am most looking forward to the two events and the associated planning for them.

Why did you want to go to the Czech Republic?

I am often asked this question and I always answer with „Why not?“.

Most people from Germany, including me, hardly know anything about the Czech Republic. That is why I see this year as the perfect opportunity to change that. I am looking forward to learning more about the country, language and culture. In addition, geographically speaking, the Czech Republic is an ideal starting point for exploring Eastern Europe.

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